According to “Psychology Today,” Emotionally Focused Therapy aims to improve couple relationships by rekindling the physical and emotional bond lost due to disappointment and alienation from their partner which creates a distressed relationship. Fallon now has a Certified Emotionally Focused Therapist in Elizabeth Polinsky who specializes in helping military and veteran couples who would like to improve communications with each other, thereby improving the quality of their relationships. “EFT is an evidenced-based treatment, meaning that the treatment will create the changes it is meant to, and it’s the only evidenced-based treatment for marriages or relationships.”
Polinski has been a therapist since 2015 and working for the Department of Veterans Affairs. “That was actually my favorite job back then, very rewarding. I was one of two PTSD specialists for the V.A. and the only female. I have a lot of specialty working with military and veteran couples where one or both have experienced trauma or PTSD. While at the V.A., veterans would talk to me about going through a traumatic experience, but what they really couldn’t get over was the fact that their partner cheated on them, or that they left. That is not to minimize the impact of the traumatic event, that certainly was and is painful for many people. But I was shocked when some of them told me that it was the relationship part that hurt.”
Polinsky’s business is registered in Virginia which is where her husband who is in the Navy was last stationed. However, she can provide online counseling services throughout Nevada, Virginia, Arkansas, and South Carolina. “I still see a number of Virginia clients virtually.” Her Fallon office is located at 20 North Ada Street where Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lucy Carnahan recently held a ribbon cutting for her.
“I’ve always had an interest in relationships. Both of my parents were military, and military life played a part in the decline in their relationship. My mom left the service, but my dad stayed in, and I watched both of them struggle in that relationship. That influenced my passion for working with couples. Once my husband and I started moving around, I knew I wanted to specialize in adult couples therapy. He was transferred to NAS Fallon this past August, and we expect to be here for three years.”
She said military life, and especially the deployments, have the greatest impact on relationships with affairs or breakups happening around deployments. “One client I worked with had a suicide attempt right after a breakup, and many of those do happen when a relationship ends. That’s one of the biggest risk factors. If I can try to help some couples repair their relationships, maybe we can prevent some of those things.”
Because EFT is an evidence-based treatment, it is also structured in stages. “The first stage is about identifying a communication pattern. Shutting down or becoming defensive is the first pattern that we may work on to improve communications and understanding between the partners. If they can both understand what is happening on the inside, they don’t react negatively to each other. It’s also about decreasing the ways we react to each other. The second stage is where we work on creating a permanent new pattern. If there are any betrayals, we also work on the healing part for that. The last stage is to look back at the good work that has been done, and how to keep using the skills to move forward. There is a definite endpoint: to create a lasting change, emotional safety, and emotional closeness.”
Her business model is a direct pay relationship, and as an out-of-network provider, she does provide billing (superbill) that the client can submit to their insurance carrier for possible reimbursement. Her website, https://www.elizabethpolinskycounseling.com/ contains a full description of her fees and questions to pose to the insurance company for full or partial reimbursement.
She also has a podcast called Communicate and Connect specifically for military relationships. “It can be especially hard for military couples to access marriage counseling. Scheduling counseling time can be difficult for military couples too.”
Polinsky’s education includes four years for her bachelor’s degree, two years for her master’s degree, and now four years into achieving her Ph.D. She’s also had two to three years of training for her therapist license since completing her master’s. It also took two years to become licensed as a marriage and family therapist. “At one point, I was working on my doctoral internship, my LMFT license, and my certification in emotionally focused therapy all at the same time.” She’s now working on her dissertation for her Ph.D. and expects to complete that within the year. “It covers marriage and family therapy with a focus on couples therapy. It also delves into how the strength of the relationship can be the source of resiliency for military spouses and for the military relationship.”